AUVSI Applauds Growing Effort to Ensure Safe and Responsible Use of UAS
Arlington, VA – The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) applauded three law enforcement organizations for their adoption of guidelines recently released by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) for the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA), the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (FBI – LEEDA) and the FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA) this week endorsed the guidelines, which provide law enforcement agencies an outline of how to use UAS safely and responsibly, and with respect to individuals’ privacy. Earlier this year, AUVSI’s released its own “Code of Conduct” for those who design, test and operate UAS.
“The unmanned aircraft industry applauds these organizations for adopting the IACP, which demonstrates their dedication to protecting communities, as well as the rights of the people within those communities,” said Michael Toscano, president and CEO of AUVSI. “Unmanned aircraft help law enforcement agencies with missions such as search and rescue, crime scene photography, and other dangerous or difficult tasks, often at a lower cost than manned aircraft. The IACP guidelines, which won praise from privacy advocates, and their adoption by others within the law enforcement community, exemplify the community’s commitment to use this technology responsibly and with respect to the individual rights we all cherish.”
The IACP guidelines adopted by ALEA, FBI-LEEDA, and FBINAA, which can be found here, cover community engagement, system requirements, operational procedures and image retention. They direct law enforcement agencies to engage with the community, specifically their governing body and civil liberties advocates, about how UAS will be used and protections put in place to uphold citizens’ rights. The guidelines also encourage notifying those living and working in the vicinity of aircraft operations, when possible. The guidelines call for a transparent implementation process for agencies desiring UAS, including a period of public comment.
The guidelines include specific steps law enforcement should take to respect the privacy of individuals:
• Where there are specific and articulable grounds to believe that the (unmanned aircraft) will collect evidence of criminal wrongdoing and if the (unmanned aircraft) will intrude upon reasonable expectations of privacy, the agency will secure a search warrant prior to conducting the flight.
• Unless required as evidence of a crime, as part of an on-going investigation, for training, or required by law, images captured by a UA should not be retained by the agency.
• Unless exempt by law, retained images should be open for public inspection.
A poll conducted earlier this year by Monmouth University found strong public support for law enforcement’s use of UAS in search and rescue missions, tracking runaway criminals, protecting U.S. borders and controlling illegal immigration. Currently, however, fewer than 3 percent of law enforcement units have aviation assets because of the high operating costs of manned aircraft. UAS provide a cost-effective alternative. The Sheriff’s Office in Mesa County, Colorado operates an unmanned aircraft at the cost of $3.36 per hour, compared to $250 to $600 per hour for a manned aircraft. The purchase price of a UAS is also significantly less than a manned aircraft, costing about the price of a patrol car with standard police gear. The vast majority of UAS currently flying in the U.S. are small models that weigh less than 25 pounds and can fit in the trunk of a car.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) — the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems — represents more than 7,000 members from 55 allied countries and 2,500 organizations involved in the fields of government, industry and academia.